Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Great Jacksonville Dog Escape

As with all other aspects of the narrative art, you will improve with practice, but practice will never make you perfect. Why should it? What fun would that be?
Stephen King

The Great Jacksonville Dog Escape
By Kelley Williams

On the morning of Thanksgiving Eve 2009, my husband and I and our two dogs were at the home of our fabulous friends Juli and Phil and their dog Stella. Juli went to work. My husband and Phil went surfing. I was asleep in the guest bedroom with the door closed. And our three dogs decided to run away.

As with every story, there is always more than one version, and in this case there are two: the Human Version and the Dog Version.

Human Version

Ring. Ring.

“Hello, this is Juli.”

“Hi this is Maria from the front office of your apartment complex.”


“Can you please bring your dogs inside?”

“Excuse me?”

“Your dogs. Can you please bring them inside?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Your dogs are running around the neighborhood. Please bring them inside.”


“Please bring your dogs inside your apartment.”

“I’m not home.”

“Oh. Well can someone bring them inside? They’re terrorizing the neighborhood.”

Juli flies out of the office, races to her car and does ninety the whole way home. She calls Kelley, who is at the apartment and surely knows what’s going on. No answer. She calls Phil. He’s surfing. No answer. She calls Mark. He’s surfing. No answer. And so the calls continue until she pulls into the apartment complex.

The back door of her apartment is open and Riley and Stella are sitting inside. Stella, happy to see her mother jumps up and puts her tiny puppy paws on Juli’s shins. Riley gives Juli a look that says “yep he’s gone.” Juli does a quick scan of the apartment and finds that indeed Cody is not there.

“Kelley! Did you know the dogs have been running around the neighborhood?”

Huh? What? I jump out of bed, throw on a sweater and pajama pants and process what I’ve just heard. Did I know the dogs have been running around the neighborhood? Why yes, Juli. Yes I did. I opened the door, said, “you kids have fun” and made them promise to be home before dark.

Of course I had no idea the dogs have been wandering around the neighborhood! (But just between you and me, I did wake up at one point and think it’s way too quiet in here. Three dogs should be making more noise. Oh well. I’m not going to complain. They’re letting me sleep. And I drifted back into my blissful slumber.)

I yank open the bedroom door and see Riley, Stella and Juli looking at me.

“Cody’s gone,” says Juli.

My heart sinks. Cody is my wild child and I know that if he’s run away he’s gone forever. Nonetheless Juli and I order Stella and Riley to “Stay,” close the door securely behind us and begin our search.

“Cody!” we call. “Cody!”

We look above Juli’s apartment at the girl lounging in her bra on the balcony. According to Juli, this was a regular occurrence despite the cool November weather. If I wasn’t in such a panic over Cody I would have informed her of this great invention called a bathing suit. I’ve been told they’re ideal for things like swimming and soaking up the sun.

“Did you see a black dog?” Juli asks

Bra girl nods.

“Do you know where he went?”

Bra girl shakes her head.

Thanks for the help.

Now what? Take off running and call for Cody? Good plan.




We see two utility men working on a meter. “Have you seen a black dog?” I ask.


Oh what a relief.

“About thirty minutes ago.”

And the relief is gone.

“Do you know which way he went?”

“Um, yeah. That way I think.”

“Into those woods, with brush so dense you couldn’t slide a piece of paper through?”

“Um…well maybe it was that way.”

“Into the lake!”

The men shrug.

Is everyone in Jville this helpful?

Juli and I run toward the lake and I try to block out visions of Cody struggling to swim, getting caught in the cat-tails.



We continue to spastically run through the apartment complex, calling for Cody. I try to comfort myself by thinking he will hear the sound of my voice and run to me. I try not to think about the business parks with busy parking lots and heavily trafficked roads that surround the complex.

Mark and Phil arrive and Mark decides to search for Cody by car and Phil heads off into the woods.

Juli and I split up. I head toward one of the business parks and Juli heads back to the office to find out if there’ve been any sightings.

As I call for Cody, I resign myself to the fact that we’ll never see him again. We got Cody from the Humane Society. He was brought there by a couple who’d found him on street. They’d wanted to keep him but their landlord did not allow dogs.

I tell myself that Cody’s life is a journey, one with many stops along the way to the final destination. My husband and I are just one stop in the journey. I tell myself Cody is tough, he loves an adventure, he’ll be okay. But then I imagine myself packing up the car and heading up to P.C. to see my husband’s family with only one dog in tow. I imagine returning home to V.B., creating posters with Cody’s picture and sending them to Juli to post around the neighborhood. I imagine calling Juli every day asking if she’s found him. I wonder at what point I will stop calling, stop hoping he will return.

I do not want to be just one stop in Cody’s journey of life.

“Cody!” I cry.

My husband pulls up beside me. “He’s gone,” I say and I can see on his face he knows it too.

On the other side of the complex Juli talks with a maintenance worker. “Have you seen a black dog running lose?”


“Do you know where he went?”

“Uh. That way.”

“If you see him again, will you stop him?”

The worker gives her a look that says stop a wild black dog? Lady, you are out of your mind. He doesn’t give her an answer.

Juli begins running back toward her apartment and hears a sound behind her. Click click click. She keeps running, her mind on Cody. But the sound continues. Click click click. She turns around and what does she see? A black dog running with abandon, free as the wind.

“Cody!” she cries. He runs to her, and she scoops him into her arms.

Mark and I are back at Juli’s apartment when I see Phil, covered in mud from the waist down, and Juli, carrying a big bundle of fur, come around the corner.

Relief washes over me and I run to Juli and scoop up Cody. “Cody! I’m so happy to see you!” I am expecting a joyful reunion, but the expression on his face is less than enthused. Dare I say annoyed?

But I am his mother. Surely he is happy to see me. Right?

Dog Version

“They’re leaving again,” says Cody, frantically scratching the door.

“They’ll come back Cody. They always do,” says Riley.

“Yeah, well I’m getting sick of being left behind.”

“I miss my Mommy,” says Stella resting her head on her tiny paws. She watches the crazy black dog claw at the door. As if that’s going to do anything. Boys are so dumb.

“Cody, calm down,” says Riley

“No way man. I’ve had it. I’m getting out of here.”

“Yeah? And how do you plan to…oh my gosh Cody! You opened the door.”

“Woah,” says Cody.

“Yay!” exclaimes Stella jumping up. “Let’s go play!”

“Um, I don’t think we should leave,” Riley says.

“Stop being such a baby,” Cody says and runs outside.

“Come on Riley. It’ll be fun. We won’t go far,” Stella promises and runs outside and sniffs the ground.

Riley hesitates, looking at the closed door behind which his mother is sleeping.

“Come on Riley!” Stella calls.

“I’ll be right outside, mom,” Riley says to the door and runs outside.

“Look at me!” says Stella. “Look at all the stuff I’m picking up. When my parents take me out it’s always ‘leave it! Stella leave it!’ Well look at me now mom! Eew! What was that? That’s gross. I think I’ll leave it.”

Riley sniffs along the sidewalk, the bushes and the grass. “Everything smells so much better when you’re not on a leash. I’m so excited I think I’ll bark. BARK! BARK, BARK, BARK! Wow, no one is telling me to be quiet! This is great! BARK, BARK, BARK, BARK, BARK. Come on Stella, do it.”

“Bark, bark, bark. This fun! Ooh, what’s this?”

“Ah, it’s been so long since I’ve tasted freedom. I want to run over here. No here. No over here. Ooh what’s that? And that?” says Cody.

“Where’s the Frisbee? Someone throw the Frisbee,” says Riley. “Ooh a flower. I’ll pee on it.”

“I just ate a bug,” says Stella. “I love eating bugs.”

“Come on guys, let’s race to the end of the street!” says Cody.

“Ready. Set. Go!” says Riley. “BARK! BARK! BARK! I love to bark when I run.”

“Guys, wait for me!”

“Ha, ha! I win,” boasts Cody. “You guys are losers!”

“I didn’t want to win,” says Stella.

“I let you win,” says Riley.

“Whatever. The world awaits. Let’s go.”

“Cody, we’re getting too far from the house,” says Riley.

“Yeah, I think we should go back,” says Stella. “My mom will be worried if she comes home and can’t find me.”

“Mine too. Come on Cody!”

“No way man! I’m not going back. I’m free!”

Riley and Stella head back to the apartment. “You better come back before mom wakes up or you’re gonna be in trouble Cody,” Riley calls over his shoulder.

“Ha! Like she’ll be able to find me.”

What a bunch of babies, thinks Cody as he streaks through the neighborhood. The world is mine. I can pee on whatever I want. I can pee on this grass, and on this tree, and on the stairs, and on this fire hydrant. Ooh that lady just left a bag by her car for me to pee on.

Ooh, there are some people over there. I can go meet them because I don’t have anyone pulling on my neck, tugging me in another direction.

“Hi people, here I come.” Ooh, what’s that? I smell something. A dog! Or maybe a cat! I think it’s a cat! I must find it!

A stick. I’ll pee on it. Lizards! I love lizards! A newspaper. I’ll pee on it. Wasn’t I looking for something? More grass. I’ll pee on it.

What was that? I heard something.


Aw crap, they’re looking for me. I’ll run further away. They’ll never find me.

I smell food! Chicken! I must follow the chicken.

The cat. There it is! I will catch it and pee on it. You can run but you can’t hide, cat. Crap, she ran up a tree. I can’t climb trees. I’ll bark at her. Maybe she’ll come down.

Ooh a person running. I love to run. I’ll chase her.

Look, she’s turning around! She’s going to give me chicken!


That’s amazing! How does she know my name?

Wait! Don’t pick me up! Why are you picking me up? I want chicken.

Oh, crap. It’s you. You’re going to take me back to my parents, aren’t you?

“Cody! I’m so happy to see you!”

Yeah sure. Whatever mom. You’ve stolen my freedom and I bet you don’t have any chicken do you?

And that is story of the Great Jacksonville Dog Escape of 2009. It was my first dog escape experience and hopefully my last. But if Cody has his way, a sequel will be coming to a town near you sometime in fall 2010.

1 comment:

  1. AAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Priceless story. That is EXACTLY what they were thinking too. I'm so glad you have written it down so we can relive it any time we want :-)


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